02Jul Stormy Weather

2 July, 2013. Tuesday of the Thirteenth Week

Gen 19:15ff. Before the cities are destroyed, Lot and his family are saved for Abraham’s sake.

Mt 8:23ff. When a violent storm is calmed, Jesus’ apostles see him in a  new light.

First Reading: Genesis 19:15-29

When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Get up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or else you will be consumed in the punishment of the city.” But he lingered; so the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and left him outside the city. When they had brought them outside, they said, “Flee for your life; do not look back or stop anywhere in the Plain; flee to the hills, or else you will be consumed.” And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords; your servant has found favour with you, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life; but I cannot flee to the hills, for fear the disaster will overtake me and I die. Look, that city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there – is it not a little one? – an my life will be saved!” He said to him, “Very well, I grant you this favour too, and will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. Hurry, escape there, for I can do nothing until you arrive there.” Therefore the city was called Zoar. The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar.

Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven; and he overthrew those cities, and all the Plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord; and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the Plain and saw the smoke of the land going up like the smoke of a furnace. So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the Plain, God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew he cities in which Lot had settled.

Gospel: Matthew 8:23-27

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”

Any Safety from the Storm?

In face of natural disasters, such as earthquake and volcanic eruptions at Sodom and Gomorrah or a fierce storm on the Lake of Galilee, God saves those who trust in him and those for whom others pray. By Abraham’s prayer Lot, his wife and two daughters are led to safety by an angel; the disciples in the boat are amazed at Jesus’ power over the wind and the waves. However, if people persist in sinful behaviour, unwilling to give up living off others’ inhuman working conditions, then prophets like Amos are impelled by God to cry out in the name of the poor.

If people won’t turn away from base sexual practices, not even the prayer of the saintly Abraham can save them and they are swallowed up in a catastrophe which only Lot and his family managed to escape. Even in moments like storms at sea, earthquakes, and natural calamities we need not be passive victims but can be saved by the strength of faith and prayer.

This faith and prayer must have a steady quality – not “on again, off again.” Lot’s hesitation almost costs him and his family their lives. The entire family had to be dragged out of the sinful city and led to safety. On the way, Lot’s wife looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt. This story probably comes from a weird, salt column at the southwestern edge of the Dead Sea. From one angle it resembles a person standing in an awkward position and gazing perpetually on the desolate landscape of this area.

Personal faith in divine providence and a prayerful disposition lets us survive the storms and not be swept into utter panic. As we note, even after the disciples waken Jesus the storm still rages but this time they turn to Jesus in humble trust. Then he addresses the winds and the sea to calm them. If we “wake up” to the presence of Jesus in our hearts – even in desperation – and stay with him long enough, we gain new assurance from his presence, and inner peace.